If there’s a recent game with a stranger plot and sillier gameplay than “Sunset Overdrive,” I’m not aware of it.
Set in the over-the-top world of Sunset City, where people have been turned into mutants thanks to a contaminated energy drink, “Sunset Overdrive” starts off wacky and never takes its foot off the accelerator. That’s perhaps the best way to think of the game: a non-stop barrage of utter absurdity. Don’t take that as a slight, however – that absurdity is what makes the game so much fun.
In the shoes of your own customizable character, you traverse the open-world environment of Sunset City with an assortment of crazy weapons, such as a rocket launcher that shoots explosive teddy bears. The aforementioned energy drink, OverCharge Delirium XT, is at both the heart of the game’s story and its environment, as almost everything ties back to it in some way, from the weapons to the enemies to billboards plastered around the city. As the game’s hero, you’ll work to escape the city and take down Fizzco, the company that caused the outbreak, fighting absurd foes along the way.
The general premise certainly sets “Sunset Overdrive” apart from its peers, but the real selling point of the game – the reason it’s hard to put down the controller – is the way you traverse Sunset City.
Similar to a skateboarding game, your character will grind on railings (and other objects, such as telephone pole cables and roof edges) to make his or her way through much of the city, which is also littered with objects to jump off of like a trampoline. The game rewards you for chaining grinds, bounces and other moves by powering up your abilities for a limited time with a skill meter. It’s incredibly tricky when you’re just starting out, but most gamers should have it down pat within an hour or two. Eventually, in fact, the movement system becomes second nature, and you likely won’t even notice what skill level you’re on or how many combo moves you’ve made.